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tv   Q A  CSPAN  May 20, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am EDT

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>> this past would question time with david cameron. after that, we stay in london where tony blair than communication director testifies before a british panel investigating ♪ >> this week, our discussion with robert carrow. his latest book entitled "the years of lyndon johnson."
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author of "the passage of power," your fourth book on lyndon johnson. why was he concerned about the health of his family? meeting his father and brothers? >> yukiya element in his life was his absolute belief he would die young. there was a saying when i was interviewing people in the hill country that he would die young. his father died of heart failure after he had been sick for many years with a bad hard before that. his uncle died at the age of 57 of a massive heart attack suddenly. the third uncle lived i think until -- he also had heart trouble. johnson has -- he knows he resembles his father amazingly physically.
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both have big ears and even had the same way of putting his arm around you. he is to say i will be dead at 60. -- used to say he will be dead at 60. he had a rush to accomplish things. >> one was his first protack? >> in 1955. >> what impact did that have? >> it was a massive heart attack. the only give them a 50% chance of living. and that must reinforced the feeling he was going to die young. the only time i was in his presence in 1964, i was a substitute reporter, so i
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covered his three days of his campaign. i went to new england. he wants actually shook my hand. i was never close with him. i just followed him around. >> do you remember the first woman that you wanted to study the power of -- the first moment you wanted to study the power of lyndon johnson? >> i do not -- i never think of them as biographies. i never had the slightest interest in writing a book to write the life of a great man. what i'm interested in is exploring how political power worked in america in the second half of the 20th-century. with robert moses, i tried to do urban political power. how poor work not just in new york but all cities.
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i wanted to do johnson. book was 74 and johnson was 82. what was the title? >> "the path to power." >> did you name the titles of the books? >> sure. >> there was "means of [unintelligible] my first publisher, my current publisher did not want "the power broker" as the title but i said, that is the title. luckily it did not come to a showdown. my next publisher loved the title. each one i have had the title.
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the whole thing is called "the years of lyndon johnson." and now, "the passage of power." >> this book, 2012, what do you mean by the passage of power? >> it is -- i am glad you asked that. the title of this book came at the end when i decided not to go on to make this a book. i said this is a book. what form of political power and by examining here? the passage of power, from one president to another. because it is a passage at a time of great crisis, we learned a lot about the use of power in the past. >> i have read you have written the last sentence of the last book. i will redo the last sentence of
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each of your books. tell us what you were thinking. before the paint had faded on the billboards proclaiming his loyalty to franklin d., lyndon b. had turned against him. >> i felt that had some of the lyndon johnson of that period of his life. he has been roosevelt's protege. he ran -- the slogan was roosevelt, roosevelt. if he wants to run on, he is not so much of a new dealer.
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>> last sentence "by 1955, lyndon johnson was the most powerful majority leader in history." >> is that the second volume? that is summing up what is to come. the last chapter he is trying for power, trying to get to the senate. seven years later, he is going to be the most powerful majority leader in history. >> in 2002, "those years had been happy and now they were over. the senate had been lyndon johnson's.
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now he had left it." >> to me that is a very poignant sentence. lady bird johnson said those 12 years in the senate were the happiest of their lives. you say this was a place he was born to be, roaming around the aisles, buttonholing people, getting things done, standing at the majority leader's desk, towering over the senate. directing people. he made another gesture and a man came running across the aisle. power. running the world. he does not want to be senate majority leader. president. he is going to leave the president and become vice president and be humiliated for three years. it was his home and now he had
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left it. >> this volume right now, the end of the book is "if he had held in check these forces within him, had conquered himself for a while, he was not going to be able to do it for long, but he had done it long enough." >> that is the last sentence. i say in this book you have a lyndon johnson who before these 47 days after the assassination was a certain type of man. bullying, ruthless, conniving. he has to rise above that to make the country know they have a president. he has to curb his temperament.
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he had a secretary name marie who gave me a brilliant insight. she said his very physical movements change on the plane. it is like he always shambled, suddenly he is walking disciplined like a president. that does not change. that is the way he acts. he says to them, he humbles themselves. he said i need you more than jack kennedy ever needed you. jack kennedy understood things about history that i do not. you understand them. you have to stay with me. you have to help me. he changes in that way. he walks with dignity. if you watch him walk of the
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aisle, you see a man who is walking in a different way. it is like very physical movements. he will not be able to do that very long as we will see when the next book opens. as this book says, he had done it long enough. >> talk about marie and how valuable she was. >> very valuable. i think i had three interviews with her. she came to work with lyndon johnson in 1962 when i believe she was 19 years old. she was a secretary who was very close to johnson. by that, i mean they trusted her
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a lot. they trusted her discretion. she was immensely helpful to me, because she was a good observer. to me, i do not care -- all i care is, can you tell me how he looks like? what would i see? she was in dallas after the assassination. she is on the plane. she actually types the oath. sometimes she said things enough really to make you cry. she describes, if i misquote, i do not have the book, she has to take -- johnson has telephoned robert kennedy to ask if he should be sworn in dallas and to get the oath.
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kennedy is apparently on a telephone line with nicholas who has the oath. he was the deputy attorney. >> describe where robert kennedy was when he first learned about his brother being shot. >> robert kennedy is sitting by the swimming pool at hickory hill, his estate. he's talking to the great district attorney of new york who is then the united states attorney. suddenly they see a number of things happen simultaneously. they see a workman, this is a big house been repainted, they see a workman stop with a transistor radio. he kept driving down this long lawn where they are sitting.
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at that very moment before the radio arrives comedy telephone a rides. it is j. edgar hoover saying that his brother has been shot, perhaps fatally. hoover did not like kennedy. robert kennedy did not like him. robert said he did not show any emotion at all. he just delivered the news. they see him clapped his hand into his face in shock and horror. >> the question was about the oath. what happened when lyndon johnson talked to robert kennedy after he was shot? >> he calls him from the plane.
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he asked him two things. should i take the oath of office in taxes or wait until i get back to washington? he's not really asking. he knows he wants to take it in taxes and for robert kennedy to agree it is the best course. he was the wording of the oath. the attorney general said i was really appalled that he would call robert kennedy, 26 minutes after he learned his brother's death, the man he hates is now his brother's success are on the phone asking him for the former details of how to take office. marie is on the plane and takes the oath. i said, how was his voice? she said, like steel, controlled. he should not have been doing that. she said i was sorry to be doing it but it had to be done. she was a great admirer of lyndon johnson.
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she said she always tortured him. if there is a job to be done, you can do it. that great picture of lyndon johnson, that iconic picture, you look in the left of background you can see the top of a woman's head. that is marie. what she is doing is reading the oath of the word to make sure he was doing it correctly. she was a great help to me. a lot of these people were amazing help. to the left is jack brooks. he is headed the judiciary
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committee. still alive. did you talk to him? how helpful was he? >> yes. i know he was helpful. i cannot remember exactly. but i want to run an audio tape. why did ladybird let those tapes go ahead way ahead of the plan? it was supposed to be 50 years after his death. >> i do not know. >> how helpful are they? >> to me they are amazing. you learn so much. his first call is to george. this is the night he gets back. more importantly comment a guy
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lyndon johnson could really count. he was a pragmatic center. he called the very same night to ask what the situation was. all you hear from lyndon johnson for quite some time is "uh-huh." then he starts to bring representatives. you say this is a genius at bending people to his will. >> here is an audio tape. >> it is difficult. they're not going to do it. i have no dealings with the fbi any more.
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>> didn't he give you that report? >> yes, he sends them over about the department of justice. >> >> i just understand that he is planning and plotting things. >> he had not sent me a report. i just told him the other day i would like to have that report. and to be sure to send me a copy. i said sent the next one for me here. i asked if he said it to the attorney general and he said yes.
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yet not send me any report on you or the department. every three or four days, he gets eight or 10 of them a day. there are routine things were people are talking. as far as i know, they have not involved you. that is narrow. he never said that. he never gave any indication of that. >> in any case, that is the state patrol there.
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maybe the fbi. i thought about having marshals going there, but that causes problems. maybe the fbi could talk to the governor's office with him they have a liaison. maybe they had a car that would follow martin luther king out of greenwood back to mississippi. >> if you want to, i will do it. >> i hate to ask you to be dealing with someone who is working over there. why don't i call them and see? >> he has never indicated that to me. >> it is a very difficult
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situation for everybody here now. or anybody that has to deal with him. we will all get through. [end audio clip] >> how could that happen? how good the attorney general not be able to tell the fbi director what to do? >> j. edgar hoover hated robert kennedy. it is interesting. people do not give enough to force to the key role that
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character personality plays in politics and power. this telephone call, hoover hated robert kennedy. robert kennedy insisted there be a telephone on hoover's desk so he could call them at any time. as soon as president kennedy died, the telephone is removed from his desk. hoover was very close to lyndon johnson. i found my reaction to johnson, i've never seen a reports on you. in reminds me of robert kennedy. the thing about london is he lies all the time. he lies even when he does not have to. hoover was very close to johnson. here we have two man on a conversation about civil-rights.
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it is our lead very simple. kennedy did not believe what lyndon johnson told him. robert kennedy, yet the two of them are working together. did they both want the civil rights of murders solved. they are two men who want civil rights advancements. >> you have a phrase that you quote quite often in the books. i want to ask you a "power is where power goes." where did that come from? >> lyndon johnson said that. when people are saying to him "don't take the vice presidency, right now you are a powerful majority leader. do not take the vice presidency. he will not have any power." johnson says, "power is where power goes." nothing makes it seem like he is boasting. that's exactly what he had done all his life. he was a junior congressman.
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he got a position with real power. he was a whip in the senate. the majority leader did not have much power. he thought he could do the same thing with the vice presidency. >> did he? >> no. he tried at the beginning in two fascinating move is. he tried to remain as the chairman of the democratic caucus even though he is in the executive branch. in the senate. yes. he thinks that they will do it because all the senators know
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what he has done for him. as soon as the election is over, the realization comes to him that "i have no power now." he tries to make some on two fronts. one was on capitol hill where he tries remain the power in the senate. if he had done that, one of kennedy's aides says if you wanted to be vice-president and majority leader, he has succeeded he would have been. all of a sudden, think what you would have done. you would have a president with a vice president with his own
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independent source of power. the senate could be independent of kennedy. at the same time, that fails. at the same time he submits this letter to kennedy which asks for general supervision of various government agencies, something no vice president has had. he asked for an office right next to the president's and his own staff. he thinks he's going to get these things. he is confident he is going to win on both fronts. the senate is an example of this overreaching, where he is so desperate that he is not doing the smart thing like his aides bringing in bobby baker. the old lyndon johnson would have realized that the senate would never have given power to someone in the executive branch. he realizes that he makes a misjudgment. this great reader of man had read one man wrong, john kennedy. he did not realize how tough he was. he gives this memo to kennedy. kennedy handled it by utterly
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ignoring it. he was very cool about it. johnson loses sales. power is where power goes. >> let me ask about something that's about the book. what was the last day you wrote something before this book? >> i'm not one for giving up my galleys. >> you said, when did you finish this book? >> sometime ago. i think four months at least. >> how do you do the note? when do you do them? >> every statement in my book needs a source and has a source.
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there are a lot of notes to do. as i am writing, my publisher says make sure you do the notes. we do not want to go through agony at the end. each time i have a notebook there. i think i am writing sources as i do them. in fact, there are all these blank spaces. when i get involved in writing, i forget about everything else. one of the things i forget about are the notes. i told them i would be done with the notes in two months. i think it took four months. >> i want your perspective on this. you write about lyndon johnson's mistress.
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we recently had this but about jack kennedy's misses. did you look into that? >> no. >> what aspect does power play in this relationship that is married men with families, they present themselves as being families that are together, and behind the scenes we are reading that there is all kinds of stuff going on? >> i can only speak about it with regard to lyndon johnson. johnson was always sleeping with people. it was a constant in his life. however, it was not necessary for me to write about 99%, because it is just meaningless and had a greater significance in his life than sex. about alice glass and helen, but alice glass i had to write at length about. i do not think the johnson people have ever really
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forgiven me. you cannot write an honest book about lyndon johnson without making her a rather major figure. he was close to her for more than 20 years. he always was driving down to virginia. she played quite a role in his life. she was a small-town girl from texas who had become the masters of a very powerful man. he brought her. they toured england. she saw a mansion there. she liked it. he built her a replica in the virginia country.
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this small town grow from virginia became this great hostess in a liberal circle. when johnson comes to washington, he is this tall, gangly fellow. alice glass taught him to wear french cuffs so his wrists would not stick out. there are times where he takes her advice above all other advice. when he is -- during 1942, you are only allowed one phone call. franklin roosevelt has said if
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you need any advice, you can call the white house, me. johnson has one call to make to decide whether to run for the senate or house. he does not call the white house. he calls alice glass. i found her telegram back to him and her advice. the telegram said everyone else think she should run for the senate. i think he should run for the house. he runs for the house. there's another time or he is feuding with his great financial supporter, herman brown, a breaking feud which would have changed his career to have financed lyndon's rise. they had really clashed over something.
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she calls them both and has them both as guests. she looks at them. she was very beautiful. they say she was the most beautiful woman. give herman the dam and let him have the housing. then it is reached. you cannot write the life of lyndon johnson without giving respect to alice. >> are you still going to vietnam? >> do you have a planned time? >> let me get through this book tour. >> we talked about lyndon johnson with you through their
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years. i want to show you a montage including a document during at the lyndon johnson library. [video clip] >> what i realized was not that i wanted to do a biography, i never conceived of writing books of the lives of famous men. i had no interest in it. what i wanted to do was explain political power. i was covering politics. i found that does not really explaining what i had gone into. whenever you pay the toll on any bridge within the boundaries of the city of new york, you're paying it directly to robert moses. authorities collected the tolls. he had absolute power. he did not have to go to a mayor or governor. that was his money to spend as he wanted. in this room was some of the use of power. when lyndon johnson was majority
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leader, he ran the senate as no one has in a century. during the last two years, he appropriated this office. he came to a senate for the only thing that mattered was seniority. you were not even supposed to speak the first year. in its first two years he became the assistant leader of his party. in four years, he was leader. in six years, he was the majority leader. then he set out to pass the first civil rights bill since reconstruction and did it. the first time i came here, i was looking for the papers. i came around the corner like this. this is what i saw. it is the only moment in my life, well not the only moment, when i felt like quitting. i was overwhelmed. what you're looking at here are
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the papers of the lyndon baines johnson, the 36th president of the united states. >> this is the reading room? >> you have to be an accredited researcher to use it. when you want to do research in the boxes, you sit in this room and put in a request form for the boxes that you want. an archivist goes down and brings them up to you on your desk and you accumulate a whole cart of boxes. sometimes you can actually see the hole in the boxes, the box on your desk. that is what happens. the boxes are brought up when you want to read them. >> this is an honor for me. for many years, i have been watching ted kennedy and the
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senate appeared in my last book, i wanted to write about the senate and its history and power. in order to get a feeling for the institution itself, i would sit week after week in the senate gallery in the committee room trying to absorb how it worked. while i was doing it, i came by accident to the realization of how much edward kennedy has meant to america. >> if he is the giving them anything, he writes "no." sometimes he writes "no out." he said that meant he was never getting anything from lyndon johnson. you did not cross lyndon
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johnson. [end audio clip] >> what was that? >> that was when he was head of the congressional campaign committee and was trying to decide how much money to give. >> you save that power always reveals. what does it reveal? >> all power corrupts. i do not think that is always true. i think what is always true is that power reveals. when you have enough power to do what ever you want to do, then people see what you wanted to do. this is particularly true in the case of lyndon johnson. power does not always corrupt. they can cleanse. in the case of sam rayburn who had to keep quiet, you see him moving the senate.
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they had the representatives. you see it within my first book. this great governor had to be a henchman until he was 50 years old. as soon as he gets the power, he goes and says it now we have to pass social welfare legislation. >> talking about four books, what time in all these years were you the maddest? >> well, there have been a
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number of times. >> and why? >> you get really angry when you follow some of johnson's methods and some of the things that he did. in the first volume, you learn about lyndon johnson in college. you say this is incredible, the things he did to get campus power, stole elections, blackmailing a student. you do get angry at him. it is disgusting. in the second volume, you see, the second book is about a stolen election. still in elections is a part of america.
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when he sees him stealing this election and you see the negative campaigning, you get angry. the third volume is probably the increase. -- the angriest. there's a section on a liberal new dealer. johnson becomes senator. he has been put there by the natural gas people. his job is to destroy him and he does. anyone who watches through my book, you just, it is horrible. when johnson comes over into the hearings where he is chairing, it is only politics. you get very angry at him.
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>> when you the most angry at another person that you're trying to get information out of? there has to be a time when bob carroll had a temper in this process. >> he has a lot of temper. i have to really think a moment. some of the johnson people would not talk to me. they came around and were helpful at the end. jack valenti. he was always attacking me. i thought his attacks were really unfair. i was happy that he came around at the end. lyndons go back to johnson in this book in the
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different circumstances that he found himself in as vice president. how was he treated by john kennedy? we could start with the bay of pigs and go to the missile crisis. >> the bay of pigs, you asked how did the kennedy administration treat lyndon johnson? he admires lyndon johnson. they made sure that lyndon johnson did not even know about the bay of pigs. that whole weekend, he is sent by kennedy to introduce the german chancellor a round texas
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to the legislature. he takes into a country fair. he is not even in washington during the bay of pigs. whether he actually ever knew about it, probably he never knew there was a planned invasion. one thing after another is that the kennedy administration does comment. they do not tell them. when kennedy introduces the civil rights bill, for a while they will not bring into the picture at all. finally ted sorensen calls to get advice. johnson has to say "i do not know what is in the bill. i know what i read in the new york times." this is the greatest parliamentarians of america and the 20th-century. this is a man to get things through congress that no one else could get through congress and they have not even consulted him on the bill or told him what is in it. the cuban missile crisis is a more involved story. at the end of it, i mean, ted
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sorensen would tell me how frightened they were of what might happen if there was a similar crisis when lyndon johnson was president. i remember ted sorensen sitting there. he is telling about something johnson said. he said "a chill went through the room." we see both the kennedy
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brothers in the most moving way fighting to keep this from escalating into war. to read the tapes on the cuban missile crisis, there are moments there. president kennedy has been holding them off, saying "give them one more day." but they have agreed that if the missiles were ever shut down an american plane, immediately we would attack. suddenly, someone comes in and hands the cia director that a plane has been sent down. everyone says we said we
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attacked and we said we will attack. jack kennedy says let's take a break and go for dinner and we can talk about it later. during the dinner, he goes down the hall to find another way. it is one of the great dramatic moments. president kennedy did some things which are quite remarkable as president. when you listen to these tapes on the cuban missile crisis, we were on the verge of nuclear war.
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there is one point where the russian ship breaks through the blockade and is heading toward cuba. we said we would attack. robert kennedy said something like open "can't we wait one more day?" president kennedy said something like "yes, we can wait one more day." and i wrote "so peace had one more day." >> you talked about how important he was a source for you. what did ted sorensen say about lyndon johnson? >> in a word or two? contempt. >> we have another idea tape. you may have heard this. jacqueline onassis kennedy, this tape would have been made in march or june 1964, talking about ted sorensen. she has already suggested that
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she's irritated that ted sorensen keeps wanting people to think he wrote to the speeches and profiles. let's listen to this. it is hard to hear. [audio clip] >> i know one thing. it is interesting about ted sorensen. larry could not stand ted sorensen. the irishman would be jealous. larry would have prepared an agenda for the breakfast and just before they were about to start ted would take it and change one or two sentences. we will see that heavy hand in more places. you know, he wanted his imprint on so many things. i told about the profiles. everyone.
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it is just sneaky. >> he is a better in the white house? >> yes. he finally loved one other person. he had such a crush on jack. he would dare to call him jack. he would blush. i think he wanted to be easy all the ways jack was easy. the civilized side of jack. he knew he was not quite that way. he went into resentment. he was very mixed up. he had an inferiority complex. i never saw him at in the white house.
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[end audio clip] >> i guess you can conclude that she did not like him. >> that is what i would have to conclude from this. i think it is very unfair, because one of the things that struck me about sorensen was how important it was for him for me to understand that he did not write profiles. jack kennedy did. >> didn't he admit he had? >> no. i do not believe that is correct. his phrase was something like "who is the author of the book? the man you write its or the man whose name is on the book?"
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the man who takes responsibility for it. i would not agree with him on it. in talking to me, it was always important to him that i understood that it was jack kennedy who is the author. that is all i can say. >> reading your books, there is a lot of back room nasty comments from everybody. if you listen to these tapes, there are a lot of nasty comments of people. meanwhile, she was sticking up for her husband and her husband had women being moved around the country for him. what is the average american supposed to take when we learn all this? it is not very attractive.
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>> well, you know, as i say for myself on lyndon johnson, most of the sex had no meaning outside of it. starting with robert moses. >> this is not so much to the sex as it is to the trust. you have the whole nasty attitude behind the scenes about individuals. >> you mean about the mistresses? it is tough. robert and jack hated lyndon johnson. the texas people said you could feel every minute they were in any were not. they made the kennedy people call lyndon johnson "rufus" and
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"uncle cornpone" mean, horrible things. on the rare occasion that lyndon johnson would be invited out, ethel would put him at the losers table. he knew he was at the losers table. it is hard to believe two of the kennedy people are having a conversation at a cocktail party. they know this a third person
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coming up. they ignore him. after a while, he turns around and walked away. one says, "i think we just insulted the vice president of united states." the other one basically says, i cannot say it. you'd have to bleep it out. they knew he was a laughing stock. behind that was their fear of him. they let him walk a tight leash. they knew what he could do. >> we do not have but a minute or two left. what has been the best to use in your opinion of your four books so far by either educators or any aspect? >> there is only one thing that is the best use.
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that is to teach kids about political power. i started doing these because i felt in a democracy power comes from us, from the readers. they vote. they have the power. the more they understand about how the political process really works, the better therefore our democracy would have to be. my books try to explain political power. the best thing for me, you are riding the subway and you see kids reading paperbacks of the four volumes. nothing makes me feel better. my wife sometimes says if you win an award or something, though they make you happy? they do of course. what makes you happy is to see a kid reading your book on the subway. >> you have dedicated your book to ina. you do it again but this time it has changed. how old are your grandkids?
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>> 23, 22, and 20. >> do they follow what you do? do they read the books? >> that is a bad question. possibly one of them has read every word several times. larry is going into politics. he has read every word. i think the others have read some of them. >> the title of the book is "to the years of lyndon johnson." the fourth book is "passage of power." we thank you very much. >> thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012]
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>> for a dvd copy, call 1-877- 662-7726. for free transcripts or to give this your comments about this program, visit us at www.q-and- a.org. "q & a" programs are also available as c-span podcasts. >> >> next, british prime minister's question time. then the kiran case and director testifies before the panel. later, recent incidents of misconduct involving homeland security department employees. live monday, t
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